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Tunisia: Moderate Islamists Win Elections

Aaron Liu |
November 14, 2011 | 3:13 p.m. PST

Associate News Editor

Tunisians took to the polls Oct. 23. (Creative Commons)
Tunisians took to the polls Oct. 23. (Creative Commons)

Tunisia’s Ennahda party emerged victorious Monday, with election officials confirming 87 out of the 217 constituent assembly seats for the moderate Islamists in the Oct. 23 election. 

The left-wing Congress for the Republic came in second, taking 29 seats, while the Popular Petition won 26 seats. Many assembly seats went to independents and small party candidates; the Communists won three seats.

The results come nine months after President Zin El Abidine Ben Ali’s 23-year-tenure ended in popular uprising. The Tunisian uprising marked the beginning of the Arab Spring, a wave of democratic protests in the Arab world that resulted in the toppling of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.

With Ennahda’s election, the Islamist party will have the most leverage in the constituent assembly as it creates a new constitution and forms an interim government. The party has already selected deputy leader Hamadi Jebali as their choice for prime minister.

The Washington Post elaborated on the significance of Ennahda’s victory and clarified that the party was relatively less conservative than its Islamist counterparts in other Arab nations:

Ennahda’s victory is expected to inspire Islamist parties competing in elections elsewhere, including Egypt and Morocco in the coming weeks. Ennahda, however, is much less conservative that other Islamist parties around the region and has pledged to respect the country’s progressive legislation supporting women’s rights.

The newly-elected assembly will hold their first session on Nov. 22.

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